The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0192 Monday, 31 January 2005
Date: Friday, 28 Jan 2005 18:12:16 -0500
Subject: 16.0182 Lark
Comment: RE: SHK 16.0182 Lark
Robin Hamilton: I can't comment on Partridge. I'm sure he's omniscient
but I don't have his book. My little Spears paperback slang dictionary
lists an 1800s OR BEFORE date for a 'to masturbate' meaning for 'lark.'
But 'larking' as a word for 'a lascivious practise that will not bear
explanation' [Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue] finds
the definition in practice in the late 1700s. Had Grose managed earlier
editions of his dictionary, it might be possible that he would have
found the word then, too. For a word to reach the vulgar, not literary,
tongue, a bit of time is required. A word in common use in the 1700s had
likely been wandering around town for a good while. If anyone knows of a
1600s slang dictionary I could check, I'll go to the library and sit
there till I find it or not.
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